Spam Related Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is address munging?

    Email address munging is the act of using ASCII, JavaScript, and scrambling of letters in your email address in order to hide your email address from spam bots, spiders, and spoofers. Our main page has a great email address munging tool.

  2. What are spam bots?

    Spam bots, also called spam spiders, are programs written to automatically search the web for email addresses. They pick up any email addresses they find in order to send them spam and junk mail.

  3. What exactly is spam?

    Spam is precisely defined as Unsolicited Commercial Email. Some people have "home spun" definitions. Mine is every annoying bit of email that I didn't ask for. I even include chain mail in my definition of spam.

  4. Why does email address munging make my email address invisible to spam bots?

    While the person viewing your page uses a browser, spam bots do not. They look directly at the source code for your page without ever looking at the display. Since they do not see an email address, they are not able to copy it and use it to spam you.

  5. Why doesn't the spam bot just convert my email address back into the displayed format and copy that?

    An extremely small amount actually do. The reason that most don't is that almost no one tries to mask and hide their email addresses from spam bots in any way. Also, those who are smart enough to mask their email address from spam bots don't use the same email address masking method. Even more, they tend to be smart enough not to click on spam. As a result, a bot, and specifically the person who wrote the bot's code, who even tried to find email addresses hidden in some specific format would not find very many. Since their goal is quantity, they usually do not search for email addresses munged this way.

  6. What else can I do to prevent spam?

    • If you post your contact information on your website, choose a contact form before posting an email link.
    • Munge and encode your email address before you post them on your website.
    • Choose a nonobvious email address. Make the length of your email address more than six letters, and do not choose the names admin, webmaster, or anything similar.
    • Avoid opening spam. Never download images contained in spam. There is a slick way in which image URLs are written that makes the email address identifiable. .
    • Download a safer browser quickly. Another way spammers get your contact information is your unsafe browser accidentally downloading spyware. Browsing to unsafe sites, even sites that look safe, is the most common way spyware gets onto your computer. Spyware can be used to steal your email address and more.

      Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are both free and high quality browsers. They are more secure against spyware and viruses. They can even recognize phishing sites for you.

    • If your computer doesn't have any anti-virus and anti-spyware protection software, there are plenty of free ones out there. You can download one with McAfee or Google Pack.
    • Though displaying your email address without making it an active link looks more unprofessional, this can help you avoid using the mailto handle and also the "@" symbol, two things spammers look for. You can also make your email address displayed as something like

      • yourname^AT^example^.^com
      • yournamZ@ZxamplZ.nZt (Replace Z with E)
    • Do not click on links that look suspicious. Sometimes bad links are obvious, but sometimes they are not. Links that say click here to make us your homepage are a great example of links you shouldn't trust. Another great example are links in spam. Sometimes people click on links just to see where they go. DO NOT do that.

    • Do not give your email address to sites you do not trust. Some easy guidelines to tell if you should not trust them are if you are or could be an instant winner, if you are getting a very good and equally exclusive deal, or if you would not want your child or grandmother to see you on the site.

    • Use multiple email addresses. Use one email address especially for signing up for news groups and special advertisements through stores. Use one that you do not mind throwing away if it gets too much spam. Depending on your email client, you should be able to forward email from one email address to another, so that you don't have to check multiple accounts frequently.

    • If you can, don't even read chain letters. Try not to forward chain letters. If you feel overcome with the urge to forward the chain letters, do the previous recipients a favor and delete all of their email addresses from the email. Also, do not download images in chain letters.

      Chain mail is a classic way that spammers collect email addresses. Most of the time, chain mail will have a huge list of all the people, including their email addresses, that received the chain letter.

      If you know the person who sent you the chain letter, politely ask them not to send them to you anymore. However, if you do not know the person who sent it to you, do the opposite. Quickly mark the email as spam, and do not reply to the person who sent it to you.

    • Don't click on "unsubscribe" links in spam. I've seen a lot of reputable antispam sites advocating "unsubscribing", but oh my, that is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. You never actually "subscribed" to begin with, and they still have your email address, correct? Trying to unsubscribe from spam will just give them verification that your email address is real.

    • Never subscribe to any website that says you can give them your email address to opt out of spam. Most of those sites are fake, and the ones that are not have no way of stopping spammers.
  7. I've gotten some spam. What can I do now?

    There are a lot of expensive software that claim to completely eliminate spam for you. Don't believe them.

    Let's be clear. Once you get some spam, it means spammers have your email address. From then on, some spam is unavoidable, and the amount you get from then on is dependent on a few things. One is luck, and the other is being smart about not getting your email address to other spammers.

    Some spammers stop spamming a few days or weeks after they start, while some don't. Some redistribute or sell email addresses, while others don't. Some send thousands of spam emails, while some send billions.

    Even still, there are things that you can do to reduce spam and prevent future spam.

    • I've created a list of filters that I use to filter my spam. I do not use these to filter my inbox. I use these to go through emails that my Gmail account has already caught as spam, so that I don't have to check my spam folder for valid emails as frequently. It currently automatically deletes over 80% of my spam, saving me a great deal of time and money.
    • There are thousands of spammers out there. The more spammers that have your email address, the more spam you will get. Avoiding more spammers will have a good effect on the amount of spam you will get. You should definitely read the previous question, "What else can I do to prevent spam?".
    • Use a spam filter. Most programs have spam filters, and most email providers have them too. If neither of those are available to you, there are some free ones available:
    • If you feel energetic, complain to the ISP of the person that sent you spam. Most ISPs have anti-spam rules, and they will do a lot to eliminate spam coming from hosted domains and home email addresses. Sometimes they can even eliminate spam coming from one person that has many fake user names. Since email headers can be forged, you might want to read the full email header.

      The best spams to do this with are spam that contain a website URL. If the spam contains a URL, don't click on the URL, but go to and find who the owner of that website is.

    • For very well-known sites like Yahoo and PayPal, you can frequently forward the email to spoof@(site_domain_here).com or abuse@(site_domain_here).com. has a good tool to automate this process.

    • A good deal of people recommend Challenge-Response systems. With these systems, a person who sends an email gets a reply back asking them questions to prove they are a real person.

      I personally don't like these, because not all machine-generated emails are spam. For me, actually, well over 90% of the email I receive on my account is machine-generated. Challenge-Response systems makes it difficult to manage these sites.

    • Another risky tool that we at definitely hate and do not recommend is to send back bounce messages to the spammer.

      The idea behind sending a bounce message is that the spammer would receive your bounce message and remove your email address from their lists. This can obviously be risky, since many spammers always assume replies are real.

  8. Where did the name "Spam" come from?

    (Source) This is a tricky one. No one knows exactly. The food SPAM (all letters capitalized) is created by Hormel Foods. It is believed by many that the name for Email Spam came from a Monty Python sketch on SPAM.

    The first ever known spam was sent through Arpanet, a precursor to the internet, by a DEC marketing rep.

    The term Spam became popular when many abusive users who frequented BBSs and MUDs would repeat either the word SPAM or lines from the Monty Python sketch on Spam in order to scroll posts from the screen.

    The first mass spammers were lawyers Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel, who used Usenet to advertise immigration law services, now known as Green Card Spam. They then promoted spamming of Usenet and email as a new means of advertising.

  9. How do I hide my webpage from search engines?

    First, be extremely sure that that's what you really want to do. If it is, paste some or all of the following meta tags into your page header:

    • <meta name="robots" content="noindex">
      This should tell search engines not to index this particular page. Some search engines may still follow links from this page to other pages and index those secondary pages.
    • <meta name="robots" content="nofollow">
      This should tell the search engines not to follow links from this particular page. Most or all will still index the current page. If desired, That can be avoided by using both this tag and the previous tag.
    • <meta name="robots" content="none">
      This should tell the search engine to index nothing on your website.

    Note: No one knows how permanent these tags are. If you put these on your site and decide to remove them later, I don't know how long it will be until search engines reindex your site.

  10. Are there any differerences between an email address munger, an email address encoder, and an email address encrypter?

    Or mailto encoder, email address obfuscator, or email address disguiser, hider, masker, cloaker, distorter, concealer .... Absolutely nothing. Sometimes people might call one an email munger, email encoder, email encrypter, email obfuscator, etc. However, these names without the word "address" in them, might refer to the encoding of an actual email to be sent, versus the munging of the email address to be posted on a webpage.

    Some people don't say "munge" (like "lunge"), they say "mung" (like "hung"). I actually looked up both words, and they both work. I even looked up some of the history of the words, and it's not clear which came first. We here at say "munge".

  11. How can I tell others about your site?

    Link to us. Email your friends, coworkers, and people you know about us. Mention this site to friends and in forums. Don't overdo it, though. Post no more than two or three links to this site. Posting links to our site all over the internet IS spamming, and that's what this site is fighting.

    We are also in desparate need of human translators. (No computerized translations please.) If you would like to volunteer to be a translator, Contact us through this page, generated by our contact form generator.

  12. I have a question, comment, or suggestion not covered above. How can I contact you?

    Contact us through our contact form.

comments powered by Disqus

Generators and Codes:

Address Munger Code and Markup Displayer Contact Form Generator Contact Us Decimal ASCII Tables Decimal-to-Hex-to-Decimal Calculator & Hex Tutorial FAQ Hexadecimal ASCII Tables Javascript Minifier and Obfuscator Link To Mailto Syntax Tutorial Password Hasher Privacy Policy Recommended Products Spam Filter Keywords Spam Related Glossary Special ASCII Characters Support

Purchase a hosting package from

eXTReMe Tracker